mercredi, août 19, 2009

Should Justice Scalia receive communion?

As many of you know, I'm not a fan of the individualist, my body, my choice mentality so popular in America.

My point of view on the life ethics issues, although I sometimes disapprove of their tactics, conforms in most ways to that of U.S. Catholic bishops. When a politician flouts their anti-abortion teaching, some bishops speak out disapprovingly. Some have threatened to ban them from taking communion.

The politicians argue, more or less convincingly (to me) that they have an obligation to uphold laws with which they disagree. Some, of course, are pro-abortion-rights.

I wonder where conscience ends and legal obligation begins -- when you take the oath of office?

But I'm not a politician. And I'm not Catholic. So it would be unusual if they cared what I think.

Justice Antonin Scalia is, however, one of the court's most vocal Catholics. So when he publically opposes his spiritual leader, Pope Benedict, in his dissent in the SCOTUS decision to allow a new hearing for convicted murdererTroy Davis, will bishops criticize him in public?

Here's the quote many media outlets (the New York Times' Adam Liptak, in this case) are using to sum up the Scalia argument in Davis --

He went on to say that the federal courts would be powerless to assist Mr. Davis even if he could categorically establish his innocence.
“This court has never held,” Justice Scalia wrote, “that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”

There's the letter of the law -- and then there is fundamental human decency. How can a person be passionate about unborn life -- and so callous about human life after birth?

But I doubt we'll have clergy chastising Scalia in their newspapers and pulpits.

After all, much of the American public, including many Catholics, supports the death penalty. It's harder to side with a convicted murderer (even if there's possible evidence of innocence) than an unborn child.

Besides, criticizing our courts...well, it's almost un-American...

But it would be wonderful if now and again, more than a handful of judges in U.S. courts stood up to defend those that our culture deems ugly, or frightening, or outcast -- urban blacks, hispanics, rural whites. In comparison, we facilitate death in our culture, rather than making it a harder choice. It's encouraging that in this case, Thomas and Scalia were the minority report.

It was especially ironic that a man who argued against precedent so many times should uphold it now.

Scalia and his "death panel" mentality articulate, sadly, a well-recognized view in American legal history. But the fact that he pushed the boundaries of the law (even if you prove your innocence, you are still dead) as well as the limits of Catholic doctrine should make someone take notice.

Round up the usual suspects.

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